Babel birds

Re Sony’s PlayStation Portable:

The firm demonstrated a piece of software called Talkman, which utilises the built-in microphone port of the PSP and allows users to speak into the device in one language and have what they said translated into another, spoken, language. The software uses a cartoon bird as its main interface, which is able to converse in, and translate between, up to nine languages.

The demonstration at the conference only showed Talkman translating between Japanese and English, but the company suggested that in its final incarnation, the software will be extremely useful as both a foreign language training tool, and as a translation device for people abroad.

It’s not clear whether it would be possible to use Talkman to translate real-time voice conversations between PSP users – a feature which was recently revealed for mobile phones by Toshiba.

There’s a screenphoto here, but no release date. I hope that when it does come out it includes Arabic and Sinhalese capabilities because, according to the Sri Lankan Daily News,

It has been revealed that one of the prime causes for arising of various disputes in the households of Middle Eastern Countries, where Sri Lankan house-maids are employed is due to the ignorance of the Arabic Language or weak spoken skills of the Sri Lankan domestic workers.

Iran, which seems very keen to “help” Sri Lanka in all kinds of ways at the moment, is going to provide Arabic language education, but the cool money’s got to be on Sony.

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